December 29, 2018

The Fouth Pillar

In 2016, noted senior political journalist and writer Jitumoni Bora brought out a book that takes an objective inquest into the true nature of journalism in Assam, uncovering a number of concealed truths and stories. Based on his own experiences over the years, his book - ‘Siyahir Rong’, enabled readers to have a refreshing look at the field throughout the 312 pages of the searing novel. The astonishing lengths to which he traversed to unfold the truth behind the façade impressed many, most notably distinguished litterateur Dr Lakshmi Nandan Bora, who found his novel intriguing and exceptional. Modern journalists can actually borrow a leaf out of his work. 

Revolving around a daily newspaper, its owner and an honest journalist, this lively story, penned by an active journalist, will now be turned into a movie by yet another journalist. The film’s script, too, is being written by a journalist, as is the dialogue. What’s more, the central role will also be portrayed by an established journalist. 

Journalists have had to undergo a lot of dilemmas and pressures in the work place. They have always been objective and neutral in their assessments of various issues, be it political or social. They have regularly been exposing the government and the bigwigs of society, indulging in various corruption and immoral practices. However, the problems mostly stem from the fraudulent misuse of power by the newspaper proprietors for their own ends. A number of journalists, vulnerable as they are, are exploited and oppressed by their superiors and newspaper owners, who hold them on a tight leash. Journalists have no option other than to keep quiet or pander to the wishes of their superiors for fear of losing their jobs. It’s an all-pervasive issue faced by journalists everywhere, including Assam. 

Journalist Sasanka Choudhury - the main character of ‘Siyahir Rong’, has to face the ire of the government and is sentenced to a jail term for refusing to compromise with his ideals. On the other hand, journalist Simanta Saikia fights relentlessly against the malicious motives and corrupt practices of his newspaper proprietor. As a watch-dog of his society, he is aware of his responsibilities for the greater good of society. A man of strong convictions and beliefs, he always strives for freedom and truth.

So far, no Assamese film has ever been made or for that matter, no Assamese novel has ever been written that genuinely discloses the dark side of the Fourth Estate – its hidden truths. After reading the novel, filmmaker Prodyut Kumar Deka evinced a lot of interest to make a film based on the subject. He has already made quite an impact with his films ‘Dhunia Tirutabur’, ‘Samiran Barua Ahi Ase’, ‘Surjyasta’, among others. But very few are aware of the fact that he has also made a name for himself as a cinema journalist. Prodyut, who has also penned the script of ‘Siyahir Rong’, is quite excited to be working on this project, like everyone else. 

The role of Simanta Saikia will be portrayed by popular cine-journalist Bidyut Kumar Bhuyan, who will be making his cinematic debut. He will be pitted against popular actor Jatin Bora, who will play the role of Sasanka Choudhury. The film will also feature artistes like Towfiq Rehman, Arun Nath, Mrinal Das, Mridupaban Dutta, Melody Patgiri, Debika Priyam, etc. The new film is all set to start production early next year.

Prantik Deka

December 14, 2018

‘Suspended Inspector Boro’ Off to a Flying Start

Amidst thundering applause, Assamese film ‘Suspended Inspector Boro’ witnessed a houseful premiere on December 6, at the Carnival Cinemas in Beltola, Guwahati. The film got released across theatres in Assam on December 7.

The film, by the team of successful Assamese films ‘Local Kung Fu’ and ‘Local Kung Fu 2’, is a serious action thriller starring actor Utkal Hazowary in the title role. The basic acting ensemble has remained largely the same; it’s just the characters and their situations that have been reshuffled.

Written and directed by Kenny Basumatary, ‘Suspended Inspector Boro’ is also releasing in the metro cities, depending on cooperation from multiplexes outside Assam, on December 14.

The film is jointly produced by Bhishan Rai, Priyama Goswami and Kenny Basumatary. “I must thank and congratulate the team. We have managed to greatly raise our production values this time. The fight scenes are a tad more realistic than in the past. We have broken a lot of stuff in this film. Hope the public enjoys the experience,” said director-actor Kenny Basumatary after the premiere.

Speaking about ‘Suspended Inspector Boro’, filmmaker Bhaskar Hazarika, of ‘Kothanodi’ fame, said: “I am thrilled to see Kenny’s new film getting a wide release in the State. It’s an entertaining Assamese martial arts film but with a script that is conscious of gender and other social issues of the day. I urge people to watch the film in their nearest cinema hall.”

“We are glad to see this level of interest among the filmgoers for an Assamese film. From the audience reaction at the premiere, we can easily say that ‘Suspended Inspector Boro’ will be a hit. We at Carnival Cinemas, are proud to play host to your entertainment,” said Ratul Pachani, CEO and managing partner at Matrix Mall, Carnival Cinemas, Beltola.

The plot, written by Kenny Basumatary, starts with Inspector Boro already suspended for bashing up a highly connected gang. A preview of the sequence was already released on YouTube which went viral. Inspector Boro gets a call from an SP who asks him unofficially to find a girl named Sabrina Rai, who’s gone missing three days ago. She was taken from her Udalguri village to Guwahati on the pretext of job training, but now her phone’s been switched off for three days and she’s vanished. Inspector Boro heads to Guwahati and fights his way to the truth.

Interestingly, Kenny is playing the main villain, Inspector Lokkhi Modon Jwala. The cast of artistes also include Eepsita Hazarika, Sarmistha Chakravorty, Mrigendra Konwar, Montu Deuri, Suneet Bora, Mumbai-based Poonam Gurung, who is a new addition, among others.

Suruj Deka returns to handle cinematography duties and director Dhruva J Bordoloi (‘Dooronir Nirola Poja’) colour graded the film.

An eclectic mix of songs have been composed for ‘Suspended Inspector Boro’ – ‘Mukto Aakax..’ by rising star Shankuraj Konwar (sung by Eepsita Hazarika), ‘Aaji Kiyo Janu..’ by Utkal (a duet with Sarmistha Chakravorty), a rap track on garbage management, sung by Bonny Deori and a hard rock piece by Derrick Correia and Anisha Saikia. The first three songs have recently been released on Youtube to great response. The background music and sound design are being done by Marathi Filmfare award winners Utkarsh Dhotekar and Ranjan Pattnayak respectively.

A Hindi version of ‘Suspended Inspector Boro’ is also being prepared. All the scenes were shot twice – once in Assamese and once in Hindi. The Hindi version is expected to be ready in January next year. Director Kenny says, “I hope Assamese people will help spread the Hindi version among their non-Assamese friends.”

Prantik Deka

December 13, 2018

Season 4 of 'North East’s Got Talent’ to Beam Soon

After achieving success with the show titled ‘North East’s Got Talent’ (Season 1, 2 & 3), a multi-talent reality TV show, Sanchita Production has again started the Season 4 of the show, which is going to be telecast at the Rengoni Channel. It is a talent show that features singers, dancers, musicians, jugglers, riders, actors, magicians, comedians, fine arts artistes (drawing, painting), and other such performers of all ages starting from six to sixty, competing for a number of lucrative prizes and gift hampers. It will be showcasing performers from across the region with a promise to bring amazing and never-seen-before talent and entertainment to the audience. 

A true celebration of the North East spirit, this long series offers an opportunity on a platter to amateurs and hopefuls wishing to strut their stuff on stage. Directed by director-actress Sanchita Talukdar, the reality show is divided into different segments like Audition, Mega Audition, Quarter Final, Semi Final, Finale and Grand Finale. The Guwahati audition is scheduled be held on December 23, 2018 at Kamrup Academy, Guwahati Club, Guwahati. To participate in this mega reality show, one can call 8011987870. The entire concept and idea is by Jyoti Kakati, the producer of the show.
Prantik Deka

December 12, 2018

Bobby Sarma Baruah’s ‘Mishing’ Screened in IFFK

Bobby Sarma Baruah’s ‘Mishing’ (The Apparition) was recently screened in the Special Focus Section of the 23rd International Film Festival of Kerala, which took place from December 7 to 13, in Trivandrum, Kerala. Based on Sahitya Akademi awardee Yeshe Dorjee Thongchi’s novel, the film, a suspense thriller that intermingles the spiritual and the supernatural, explores the myths and legends of the Sherdukpen community in Arunachal Pradesh, while it makes an earnest attempt to preserve its dialect which is on the verge of extinction. 

Shot in the scenic locations of Arunachal Pradesh, the film talks about driver Singh, a Manipuri deserter, who grows roots with Arunachal’s exotic Sherdukpan community, suddenly disappears one day, only to resurface after decades and once again vanish behind a curtain of curious questions. The film also refers to a local belief about spirits of dead people appearing and trying to communicate with their loved ones.

Filmmaker Bobby Sarma Baruah took almost two years to research and get familiar with the culture. The music, aesthetically compelling, has been used in keeping with the local culture and traditions, and it’s the villagers themselves who have sung folk songs in the film. The film also contains Buddhist chants that they are used to practicing. 

The film, which had its world premiere at the Kolkata International Film Festival 2018, is produced by Sulakhyana baruah and co-produced by Basanta Kumar Baruah and Bobby Sarma Baruah. The casts of artistes include Rajib Kro, who appears as the protagonist, Tsering Dorjee Khrimey, Mala Goswami, Prem Dorjee Monoj, etc. The film’s cinematography is by Sonu, music is scored by Shashank Kothari, sound designed by Rahul Rabha and the editing is by Ratul Deka.   

Prantik Deka 

November 27, 2018

Assam’s Puppet Show Performed in Andaman’s Port Blair

Puppet dance, popularly known as 'Potola Nach', was once the most popular form of entertainment, especially for children, but the tradition has struggled to survive against the onslaught of modern popular culture. 

For some years now, people in the State have been able to enjoy the ancient art form of puppetry due to the tireless efforts of the artistic couple, master puppeteers Binita Devi and Simanta Sarma. This couple has invested a great deal in reviving this art form with their clever and refreshing approach by adopting new but simple techniques, enacting stories through glove puppetry that act as a bridge between the child’s world and that of the adult. 

It has also enabled children to discover and build an emotional rapport with our rich folk tales and fables, mythological tales, as well as commentaries and stories about social issues, among others, that are interspersed with drama, poetry and songs. “Nowadays children are so glued to mobile phones and television that they hardly have any time for other activities. They can be introduced to a range of glove puppets to work on as an extra-curricular activity, which will allow them to experience the world of imagination,” Binita Devi said. “They can manipulate the puppets themselves to tell their own stories,” she said, adding that one needs that much enthusiasm, drive and dedication to imbibe the intricacies of the craft.

The skilled artiste, along with her husband, has been imparting training in glove puppetry to a number of pupils from all over the State at their cultural institution Surajit Academy, which is located in Jalukbari, Guwahati. Binita Devi has been making a lot of effort to teach her students in the art since its very inception in 1997. She has been conferred with a Junior Fellowship Award from the Ministry of Culture, New Delhi, on her research project – ‘An analytical study of Puppetry of Assam with special reference to Nalbari District’. She had also received a project from ASTEC (Assam Science Technology and Environment Council) – ‘Modern technique and innovation of Puppetry making’ on the basis of magnetic puppet. Interestingly, besides participating in international exhibitions and various seminars all over the country, her research works have been published in international, national as well as regional journals. 

It has to be noted that five of their students have earned the CCRT (Centre for Cultural Resources and Training) Scholarships, under the aegis of Ministry of Culture, Govt. of India. A number of students from the institute have also acquired lucrative government and private jobs. It has to be noted that well-known celebrities like actor Himangshu Prasad Das, actress Chandana Sarma, NSDian Rajib Kalita, Prag News correspondent Diganta Sarma among others, are former students of the institute.

It’s to their credit that apprentices, especially children, who once strayed away from puppet shows, are now coming in droves to enroll at her institute. Both Binita Devi and Simanta Sarma deserve immense credit for this transformation.

It needs quite a lot of practice and agility to master the art of glove puppetry, which involves the manipulation of three fingers on the puppets worn like gloves on both the hands. It has always been the primary objective of their cultural institution to promote and create awareness of this vanishing art form. The couple hopes to exert a strong influence on the imagination of the coming generations of puppeteers. Over the years, they have been enthralling audiences enjoying their puppetry in Assamese, Hindi and Bengali. It’s interesting that Surajit Academy has been staging puppetry shows all over the country, winning accolades everywhere. 

On the occasion of 150th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, the students of Surajit Academy performed a glove puppetry play called ‘Praisitta’ in a function titled ‘Bapu Smaran’ held in Port Blair, the capital of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, recently. The half-hour play, written and directed by Binita Devi, showed some memorable incidents from Mahatma Gandhi’s childhood, which were enjoyed to the hilt by the audiences. The play’s music was provided by Papu Gohain. The pre-recorded dialogue of the play, performed in Hindi, was rendered by Hardik Sarma, Swapan Das, Niharendra Sarma and Binita Devi. The glove puppets were manipulated and maneuvered by Simanta Sarma, Dhrubajyoti Kalita, Hridayjyoti Das, Hardik Sarma, Anita Devi, Manomati Boro and Gitima Das.

Prantik Deka

November 1, 2018

Jahnu Barua’s ‘Bhoga Khirikee’ Release Postponed

Noted Assam filmmaker Jahnu Barua’s ‘Bhoga Khirikee’, which was set to release Friday last, has been postponed. This was informed at a press interaction at Sankardev Kalakshetra in Guwahati recently.

The film’s producer Shahnab Alam said the film would be released within a month. ‘Bhoga Khirikee’ was screened on the opening day of the Guwahati International Film Festival (GIFF).

Talking about the Hindi movie lobby, Barua said, “It has always been a problem for Assamese film industry. It is tough to get a release date as there are many things to think about. But still, Assamese film industry is in a good place right now.”

Actress Jerifa Wahid who stars in the film, said her experience working in this film is satisfactory. She said, “I love to work in films with original content which Jahnu Barua always strives to offer. I am satisfied with Bhoga Khirikee.” She also said that it is really tough to make it in the film career especially in the context of Assam as there are numerous struggles. The cast includes Zerifa Wahid who plays the protagonist, actor Seema Biswas, Joy Kashyap, and National Award winner Bishnu Khargoriya, among others. It was made at a budget of approximately Rs 4.5 crore.

Jahnu Barua, while speaking about the film, said that the film is symbolic. “Bhoga Khirikee represents Assam and the lead character Togor represents the present society,” Barua said. He also said, “I always wanted to tell the story of my life. To make our society strong and more efficient in this competitive world, film is one of the best medium to explore and tell the world a story.”

Tracing the story of how the film was made, Barua said it was Wahid, who approached him and wanted to know whether a film would be made from a story idea they had discussed earlier. Later, Shahnab stepped in and offered to produce the film. It was Shahnab who got Priyanka Chopra on board as the presenter and co-producer.

Making a comeback after four and half a year, Barua’s ‘Bhoga Khirikee’ was shot in locations in and around Kaziranga National Park. It took 30 days to shoot the film, 26 in Kaziranga and nearby Bokakhat and four in Guwahati. Most of the forest scenes in the film were shot in Kaziranga while the main house shown in the film is a set.

The film is being produced by Purple Pebble Pictures, owned by Assam tourism brand ambassador Priyanka Chopra, and Easterly Entertainment, a Mumbai based company.

Prantik Deka 

October 31, 2018

Upcoming Assamese Film ‘Janaknandini’ : Directed by Amitabh Bora

‘Janaknandini’ - a new Assamese movie based on Satriya dance, culture and heritage of Majuli, produced by Rinku Das and Kunjalota Gogoi Das under the banner of Niji Productions, is waiting to be released. Directed by Amitabh Bora, who has also written the story and the screenplay, the film is the story of a simple girl, a dancer, who is immersed in the Sattras and Sattriya culture of Majuli, where people have managed to cling to their cultural identity.

This upcoming film’s dance sequences have been choreographed by Nrityacharya, Padmashree Jatin Goswami.

The various roles are played by Gunjan Bhardwaj, Nandini Kashyap, a trained Satriya dancer, Arun Nath, Madhurima Choudhury, Rupom Barua, Gautam Bora, Gauranga Bordoloi, Barish Dutta and Nilakshi Hazarika.

October 30, 2018

Back With Action-Packed Heroics Kenny Basumatary's ‘Suspended Inspector Boro’

After the grand success of ‘Local Kung Fu’ and ‘Local Kung Fu 2’, popular actor-director Kenny Basumatary and his Local Kung Fu team is back with their third venture titled ‘Suspended Inspector Boro’. This time, they have ventured into the crime thriller genre. The film has been directed by Kenny Basumatary, and produced by Bhishan Rai and Priyama Goswami, under the banner of B R Productions. The film’s story, screenplay and dialogue have been penned by the director himself. 

The film’s story revolves around Inspector Boro, an incorruptible, no-nonsense cop, highly skilled at martial arts. He gets suspended for bashing up a well-connected gang of traffickers. A Superintendent of Police asks him to unofficially track down a girl named Sabrina Rai, who has gone missing. Someone had taken her from her village to Guwahati city under the pretext of training her for the hospitality industry. Inspector Boro heads to Guwahati and punches and kicks his way to learn some uncomfortable truths – Sabrina might have got entangled in a trafficking racket run by a corrupt policeman.

The title role of the film is being played by Utkal Hazowari, who is famous for playing the villain in Local Kung Fu, and is one of the leads in Local Kung Fu 2. Most actors from the cast of Local Kung Fu 2 will be seen in this film as well, including Eepsita Hazarika, Sarmistha Chakravorty, Mrigendra Konwar, Montu Deuri, and Suneet Bora. A new addition is Mumbai-based actress Poonam Gurung, who has previously done major roles in Bengali film ‘Khoj’ and the upcoming Nagamese film ‘Uribo’, whereas Kenny Basumatary will be playing the main villain, Inspector Lokkhi Modon Jwala.

The film has been shot by Suruj Deka around some beautiful locations of Guwahati and Udalguri, edited by Kenny, and music has been scored by Utkarsh Dhotekar and Derrick Correia. The film’s sound designers are Tony Basumatary and Bonny Deori, colourist is Dhruva J Bordoloi, line producer is Anupam Baishya, actions by Utkal Hazowari and Montu Deuri, and the associate producer is B P Deori. According to the producer, the film will hit the theatres on December 7 all over Assam. 

Prantik Deka 

October 11, 2018

A Mysterious Tale: Manju Borah’s ‘Bishkanyar Deshot’

Director Manju Borah’s engagement with indigenous cultures is deeply rooted. The poignant exploration of the tribal societies, their socio-economic and contemporary reality has acted as a perfect metaphor for her films like ‘Ko:Yad’ and ‘Dau Huduni Methai’. As powerful as they were, the films were unmistakably ethnic, yet universal in their representation of issues. Her camera returns once again to explore one of the least-known ethnic groups, this time, located in Arunachal Pradesh, in her new film ‘Bishkanyar Deshot’ (In The Land of Poisonous Women), which is based on distinguished litterateur Yeshe Dorje Thongchi’s much acclaimed work. 

A much respected name in the literary field of Assam, Yeshe Dorje Thongchi is known for the warmth and intimacy of his writing, which is simple, yet lucid. The popular novelist has left a lasting impact with his highly sensitive literary creations, enriched by minute and dramatic portrayal of the environment and situations in Assam and Arunachal. Having won the prestigious Sahitya Akademi Award in 2005 and the Dr Bhupen Hazarika National Award in 2017, he has carved a niche for himself not only in Arunachal Pradesh and Assam, but also at the national level.

The novel Bishkanyar Deshot has been written in the backdrop of the Zemithang region in the Tawang district. According to the writer, when he was in school he got to read about a sensational murder that took place at Zemithang in the then undivided Kameng district, in the popular Hindi magazine Dharmyug. It was a touching description of how a very beautiful young Panchenpa woman was killed, along with a photograph of the slain woman. Much later, when the writer was serving as the Deputy Commissioner of Tawang district, he saw a mysterious house at a place called Brokenthang in the Zemithang region. He heard people talk about an old couple residing in the house. The old woman was very beautiful. There was a link between the captivating mystery surrounding the sensational murder that he had read about in his school days and the mysterious abode and its elderly occupants in the present context. This link, enshrouded in mystery, is depicted in the novel and has now been used in the film.

The language used in the movie is that of the tribal Panchenpa, a section of the Monpa tribe with a population of just around 5000, settled near the India-China border region, some hundred kilometres West of Tawang. Besides presenting a story of suspense, the novel portrays a superstitious belief prevalent among the Panchenpas of Arunachal, which has taken a toll on the girls and women of the Panchenpa community. A noteworthy aspect of the novel is the positive step taken by the present-day educated young Panchenpa men and women to strengthen their language, culture, and social entity. This special feature has transcended all geographical barriers and spilled onto international spheres.

Meanwhile, after wrapping up the film’s shoot and editing, the film’s background score by Aniruddha Borah too has been completed. A Toronto-based engineer, Aniruddha, incidentally is Manju Borah’s son, and he had also scored the music of ‘Dau Huduni Methai’ and is currently scoring the music for ‘Kotha Nodi’-fame Bhaskar Hazarika’s new film 'Amis' (Voracious). Manju Borah has also enlisted the help of Hindi cinema’s well-known name - Arunoday Sharma, to execute the film’s sound effects. Produced and scripted by Manju Borah herself, the film, presented by AAAS Productions Pvt. Ltd., features cinematography by the National award-winning Sudheer Palsane and editing by the renowned A. Sreekar Prasad. While the art direction is by Phatik Baruah, make-up by Uday Mandal, ‘Bishkanyar Deshot’s production-costume designer and chief assistant director is Jiban Dawka. 

The film has used locally based artistes in a number of roles. They include Kesang Wangda, Lobsang Drema, Dorjee Wangdi, Dondup Drema, Kendan Tashi, Sangey Drema, Tsetan Dondup, Tenzin Phontso, Rinchin Sambru, Pema Wangmu, Lobsang Lhamu, etc. Yeshe Dorje Thongchi also briefly appears in the movie. Once the film’s post-production works are completed, Manju Borah intends to send it to various festivals from the early part of next year. 

Prantik Deka